Supporting North Peace Secondary School in a Paramedic Career Path Opportunity

Dr. Holmes Presenting at North Peace Secondary SchoolThere is a significant shortage of local paramedics working in both the public and private sector in rural, northern, and remote areas of British Columbia. Iridia Medical is looking to address this ongoing challenge by supporting training and mentoring for a cohort of Grade 12 work experience students from North Peace Secondary School interested in a career as a paramedic or other health care profession. This initiative represents one of several ways Iridians continue to act upon our key value of social responsibility.

Iridia works in several remote areas with resource companies in northeast B.C. to provide an industry-leading level of medical care. We employ paramedics and Occupational First Aid Attendants (Level 3 or OFA3s for short), provide them with 24-hour access to on-call emergency physicians for further expertise, and deploy them to large remote work camps.

Iridia is also committed to hiring paramedics and OFA3s from the communities where we work. However, many of the surrounding small towns and villages near our remote operations suffer from a shortage of trained personnel. Paramedic and OFA3 expertise is not only needed by us, but also by B.C. Ambulance Stations and other industrial projects.

To address this gap, we are working with the District Principal of Careers at North Peace Secondary School (NPSS), Mr. Brian Campbell, to implement an innovative program to help guide Grade 12 students through the process of becoming fully licensed paramedics.

Dubbed the Paramedic Career Path (PCP), the initial phase of this innovative initiative is getting set to launch. A group of six to eight Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal students will be selected and then trained to become job-ready OFAs. Once students are qualified as OFAs and complete a number of additional safety courses, they will be paired with, and directly supervised by, one of our Iridia paramedics in the field. They will not only have the chance to provide real-life patient care in a safe environment but also gain invaluable mentoring experience.

Shell, Progress Energy, and Viper Innovation have generously provided grant money for a number of safety training initiatives in School District #60, including the OFA training for the Paramedic Career Path initiative. A second phase of the program will then support OFA3’s to further their skills to become Emergency Medical Responders and eventually Primary Care Paramedics, in collaboration with B.C. Ambulance Service (BCAS).

The program will start in Fort St. John with plans to expand to both Fort Nelson and Dawson Creek high schools. To kick off, Dr. Holmes, Iridia’s Founder, travelled to Fort St. John to provide two sessions for close to forty Grade 12 students from both Transition to Trades and academic track students. Accompanying him were Rick Loukes, BCAS Superintendent, and Makayla McLeod, Iridia’s Assistant Paramedic Coordinator. These introductory sessions included a question-and-answer session with hands-on stations set up for students to practice CPR on the Iridia SmartMan manikin, learn how to use an Automated External Defibrillator, and complete an ambulance walkthrough. The presentation was very well received with a number of students anxiously looking forward to being involved in the program. Stay tuned!

Rick Loukes Teaching FSJ Students Makayla Training Students Rick Loukes Showing Students AED Electrodes Dr. Holmes Teaching Student CPR on SmartMan

Working on Wellness at Oil and Gas Camps

Oil and Gas Camp

What is Working on Wellness?

Working on Wellness (WoW) is a pilot program which Iridia will be helping to implement at BC oil and gas camps. It is part of a larger project to adapt workplace wellness programming for specific groups in BC, the Yukon and the Northwest Territories. Working on Wellness is based on the WellnessFits program (wellnessfits.ca), that was developed and run by the Canadian Cancer Society.

Before WoW started in November, camp employees were asked to complete a survey or participate in a group discussion to identify which health and wellness topics are of the highest interest to those working on-site. Potential topics included: healthy eating, physical activity, healthy minds, early detection, tobacco reduction and UV/Sun Awareness.

In June, baseline surveys were conducted and analyzed. Results suggested that camp workers were most interested in learning about healthy eating, physical activity, screening and early detection. Camp workers also stated that the most important change they would like to see in a workplace wellness program would be an increase in physical activity and improved eating habits.

Next Steps

Based on the results and discussions with Iridia medics in camp, action plans surrounding the concepts of Educate, Act and Support were developed:

  • Educate – Sharing stretching information and tips at safety meetings, on posters around the camp and/ or hosting education times to present information about health screening, healthy options at camp, or healthy meal ideas for home.
  • Act – Providing opportunities for employees to practice making healthier choices, for example, running a healthy eating challenge and/or organizing an evening workout group.
  • Support – Making changes to the work environment and/or implementing policies that support employees in making healthier choices such as implementing a respectful workplace policy or working with food services to increase uptake of healthy foods.

Working on Wellness

The first component started in November using the theme of “Protect your Equipment.” Blood pressure clinics and physical activity initiatives soon followed and in the New Year we will begin nutritional and mental wellness trials. WoW will wrap up in the Fall of 2016, leaving behind resources to continue running the program through a model which involves onsite health personnel.

Benefits of Working on Wellness

The camps that participate in the program will receive:

  • Assistance with planning the program to ensure learning opportunities are available
  • Assistance to determine interest in changes within the worksite or policies to support healthy choices
  • Training and ongoing mentoring for a worksite champion
  • Program resources (posters, booklets, handouts etc.)
  • Financial support for incentives and events to celebrate throughout the year

Our Role

The Canadian Cancer Society has chosen Iridia as a partner because of our unique position of having health care providers living or working in camp environments. This is a very exciting opportunity for us as little research has been conducted in these types of environments. It is an opportunity for us to promote healthy workplaces while developing new partners and relationships in the healthcare sector.

 

First Responders, Meet Your Opponent: “Death”

Death Race

“Life is pleasant. Death is peaceful. It’s the transition that’s troublesome.”  – Isaac Asimov –

First Responder – meet your opponent: “Death”

In the daily race between Life and Death, the first responder is the designated competitor for Life. It’s a two horse race and there can be just one winner. The only problem is – we’re not always sure where the finish line is. Physiological death is now seen as a process, more than an event. It is a process that begins when the heart stops beating, the lungs stop working and the brain ceases functioning – a medical condition termed cardiac arrest. During a cardiac arrest, all three criteria of death are present. Conditions once considered indicative of death are now reversible. Where in the process a dividing line is drawn between life and death depends on factors beyond the presence or absence of vital signs. In general, clinical death is neither necessary nor sufficient for a determination of legal death. A patient with working heart and lungs determined to be brain dead can be pronounced legally dead without clinical death occurring. As scientific knowledge and medicine advance, a precise medical definition of death becomes more problematic.

Death is the cessation of all biological functions that sustain a living organism. Phenomena which commonly bring about death include biological aging, predation, malnutrition, disease, suicide, homicide and accidents or trauma resulting in terminal injury. Bodies of living organisms begin to decompose shortly after death.

In society, the nature of death and humanity’s awareness of its own mortality has for millennia been a concern of the world’s religious traditions and of philosophical inquiry. This includes belief in resurrection (associated with Abrahamic religions), reincarnation or rebirth (associated with Dharmic religions), or that consciousness permanently ceases to exist, known as eternal oblivion (often associated with atheism).

On the living side of death, commemoration ceremonies may include various mourning, funeral practices and ceremonies of honouring the deceased. The physical remains of a person, commonly known as a corpse or body, are usually interred whole or cremated, though among the world’s cultures there are a variety of other methods of mortuary disposal. In the English language, blessings directed towards a dead person include rest in peace, or its initialism RIP.

The most common cause of human deaths in the world is heart disease, followed by stroke and other cerebrovascular diseases, and in the third place lower respiratory infections.

Senescence

Almost all animals who survive external hazards to their biological functioning eventually die from biological aging, known in life sciences as “senescence”. Unnatural causes of death include suicide and homicide. From all causes, roughly 150,000 people die around the world each day. Of these, two thirds die directly or indirectly due to senescence, but in industrialized countries—such as the United States, the United Kingdom, and Germany—the rate approaches 90%, i.e., nearly nine out of ten of all deaths are related to senescence.

Signs of death or strong indications that a warm-blooded animal is no longer alive are:

  • Cessation of breathing
  • Cardiac arrest (no pulse)
  • Pallor mortis, paleness which happens in the 15–120 minutes after death
  • Livor mortis, a settling of the blood in the lower (dependent) portion of the body
  • Algor mortis, the reduction in body temperature following death. This is generally a steady decline until matching ambient temperature
  • Rigor mortis, the limbs of the corpse become stiff (Latin rigor) and difficult to move or manipulate
  • Decomposition, the reduction into simpler forms of matter, accompanied by a strong, unpleasant odor

The Finish Line – Problems of definition

The concept of death is a key to human understanding of the phenomenon. There are many scientific approaches to the concept. For example, brain death, as practiced in medical science, defines death as a point in time at which brain activity ceases.

One of the challenges in defining death is in distinguishing it from life. As a point in time, death would seem to refer to the moment at which life ends. However, determining when death has occurred requires drawing precise conceptual boundaries between life and death. This is problematic because there is little consensus over how to define life. This general problem applies to the particular challenge of defining death in the context of medicine.

It is possible to define life in terms of consciousness. When consciousness ceases, a living organism can be said to have died. One of the notable flaws in this approach, however, is that there are many organisms which are alive but probably not conscious (for example, single-celled organisms). Another problem is in defining consciousness, which has many different definitions given by modern scientists, psychologists and philosophers. Additionally, many religious traditions, including Abrahamic and Dharmic traditions, hold that death does not (or may not) entail the end of consciousness. In certain cultures, death is more of a process than a single event. It implies a slow shift from one spiritual state to another.

Other definitions for death focus on the character of cessation of something. In this context “death” describes merely the state where something has ceased, for example, life. Thus, the definition of “life” simultaneously defines death.

Today, where a definition of the moment of death is required, doctors and coroners usually turn to “brain death” or “biological death” to define a person as being dead; people are considered dead when the electrical activity in their brain ceases. It is presumed that an end of electrical activity indicates the end of consciousness. However, suspension of consciousness must be permanent, and not transient, as occurs during certain sleep stages, and especially a coma. In the case of sleep, EEGs can easily tell the difference.

However, the category of “brain death” is seen by some scholars to be problematic. For instance, Dr. Franklin Miller, senior faculty member at the Department of Bioethics, National Institutes of Health, notes: “By the late 1990s, however, the equation of brain death with death of the human being was increasingly challenged by scholars, based on evidence regarding the array of biological functioning displayed by patients correctly diagnosed as having this condition who were maintained on mechanical ventilation for substantial periods of time. These patients maintained the ability to sustain circulation and respiration, control temperature, excrete wastes, heal wounds, fight infections and, most dramatically, to gestate fetuses (in the case of pregnant “brain-dead” women).”

Those people maintaining that only the neo-cortex of the brain is necessary for consciousness sometimes argue that only electrical activity should be considered when defining death. Eventually it is possible that the criterion for death will be the permanent and irreversible loss of cognitive function, as evidenced by the death of the cerebral cortex. All hope of recovering human thought and personality is then gone given current and foreseeable medical technology. However, at present, in most places the more conservative definition of death – irreversible cessation of electrical activity in the whole brain, as opposed to just in the neo-cortex – has been adopted

Even by whole-brain criteria, the determination of brain death can be complicated. EEGs can detect spurious electrical impulses, while certain drugs, hypoglycemia, hypoxia, or hypothermia can suppress or even stop brain activity on a temporary basis. Most commonly used method to diagnose with is with brain stem reflexes:

  • Pupils fixed, dilated and unresponsive to direct light in the absence of drug effects or ocular trauma.
  • Corneal reflexes absent bilaterally. The patient should not blink when the corneas are lightly brushed.
  • Cough and gag reflexes absent bilaterally. The patient should not react when the pharynx is stimulated or when the endotracheal tube is suctioned.
  • Doll’s eye response absent. When the head is turned from side to side, the eyes remain fixed in the orbits.
  • Cold water caloric response absent bilaterally. Ice water is gently instilled into each external ear canal using a 30 ml syringe. No nystagmus (fast component towards irrigated ear) is noted. Observe each side for one minute and allow five minutes between sides.

Misdiagnosed

misdiagnoses

There are many anecdotal references to people being declared dead by physicians and then “coming back to life”, sometimes days later in their own coffin, or when embalming procedures are about to begin. From the mid-18th century onwards, there was an upsurge in the public’s fear of being mistakenly buried alive, and much debate about the uncertainty of the signs of death. Various suggestions were made to test for signs of life before burial, ranging from pouring vinegar and pepper into the corpse’s mouth to applying red hot pokers to the feet or into the rectum. Writing in 1895, the physician J.C. Ouseley claimed that as many as 2,700 people were buried prematurely each year in England and Wales, although others estimated the figure to be closer to 800.

 

In cases of electric shock, cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) for an hour or longer can allow stunned nerves to recover, allowing an apparently dead person to survive. People found unconscious under icy water may survive if their faces are kept continuously cold until they arrive at an emergency room.[19] This “diving response”, in which metabolic activity and oxygen requirements are minimal, is something humans share with cetaceans called the mammalian diving reflex.

 

As medical technologies advance, ideas about when death occurs may have to be re-evaluated in light of the ability to restore a person to vitality after longer periods of apparent death (as happened when CPR and defibrillation showed that cessation of heartbeat is inadequate as a decisive indicator of death). The lack of electrical brain activity may not be enough to consider someone scientifically dead. 

Near the finish line – Near death Experiences (NDE)

During a cardiac arrest, all three criteria of death are present. There then follows a period of time, which may last from a few seconds to an hour or more, in which emergency medical efforts may succeed in restarting the heart and reversing the dying process. What people experience during this period of cardiac arrest provides a unique window of understanding into what we are all likely to experience during the dying process?

What can we learn from near death experiences? A near-death experience (NDE) refers to personal experiences associated with impending death, encompassing multiple possible sensations including detachment from the body, feelings of levitation, total serenity, security, warmth, the experience of absolute dissolution, and the presence of a light. These phenomena are usually reported after an individual has been pronounced clinically dead or has been very close to death. With recent developments in cardiac resuscitation techniques, the number of reported NDEs has increased. Brain death is one of the deciding factors when pronouncing a trauma patient as dead. Determining function and presence of necrosis after trauma to the whole brain or brain-stem may be used to determine brain death, and is used in many states in the US.

In 2008, academic neurosurgeon Eben Alexander had an NDE while attached to an electroencephalogram which demonstrated a total lack of neural activity. After resuscitation, he found he was able to identify the face of a deceased biological sister whom he had previously not known existed (he had been raised in an adoptive family). Prior to his NDE, Alexander had been non-religious. Afterwards, he gained a definite belief in the existence of an afterlife, and went on to write a book about his life-altering experience. Alexander states that the elaborate, highly detailed, and even prescient experiences he had while his brain activity was clinically non-existent provide definitive proof that consciousness can exist without the need for a functional brain. So the plot thickens.

Researchers have identified the common elements that define near-death experiences. Bruce Greyson argues that the general features of the experience include impressions of being outside one’s physical body, visions of deceased relatives and religious figures, and transcendence of egotic and spatiotemporal boundaries.  Many different elements have been reported, though the exact elements tend to correspond with the cultural, philosophical, or religious beliefs of the person experiencing it, but taken together, the scientific experience suggests that all aspects of near-death experience have a neuro-physiological or psychological basis.

Studying the area close to the finish line.

Dimethyltryptamine
Artificial Near Death Experiences through hallucinogenics. (The “Spirit molecule”)

I am sure many of you will remember the movie “Flatliners” –  a 1990 American sci-fi thriller film directed by Joel Schumacher, starring Kiefer Sutherland, Julia Roberts, Kevin Bacon, William Baldwin and Oliver Platt. Five medical students use physical science in an attempt to find out what lies beyond death. They conduct clandestine experiments that produce near-death experiences. So these ideas are not new. More and more people wants to know what they can expect after death before they die. Is it possible to create NDE artificially? Without going to the extent the Medical students did in the movie. 

Dimethyltryptamine (DMT) is a naturally occurring psychedelic compound of the tryptamine family. DMT is present everywhere in Plants and in Mammals. In humans it is secreted by the Pineal gland. Rick Strassman advanced the hypothesis that a massive release of the psychedelic dimethyltryptamine (DMT) from the pineal gland prior to death or near-death was the cause of the near-death experience phenomenon. This in order to explain NDE on a biological basis. So can we create a NDE by administering exogenous DMT?

The Hallucination produced by exogenous intake of DMT are Reported by many people. “Recreational NDE experiences” is currently one of South America’s most lucrative tourism activities through Ayahuasca retreats. The ingestion of Ayahuasca, which is a psychedelic brew made from the bark of Banisteriopsis caapi vine alone or in combination with various plants, contains a high concentration of DMT. The ingestion is often referred to as a “little death”. People to this in order to experience a “spiritual awakening” and many reports that Life hasn’t been the same ever since their experience. 

Real death (RD) vs. Near Death Experience (NDE) vs. Artificial Near Death Experience (ANDE)

real death vs near death

So with all these similarities it is very likely that a type of Near Death Experience can be simulated by an exogenous intake of hallucinogenic substances for example DMT.

Conclusion

So why is this important to the first responder? This is our race. This is why we get up in the morning  – to compete. We are the ones who tries to win the race and make it “not today”. Sometimes we succeed and sometimes we don’t. Do we “lose” if we don’t succeed? It is important to know and understand who and what we are up against. Sometimes we don’t know that we may have already crossed the finish line. When we win, we brisk the patient off to the hospital with wailing sirens. What does Death do when he wins? Understanding the finishing line will help us understand our opponent, the race and the prize. The exact definition of death, as with life, has been delusive through the ages. Religions where the only ones who attempted to define what happens during this inevitable ending to all life. Now, as we start to understand the process on a biological basis, there is an overlap of medicine and human spirituality. What we know now will probably not be true in 5 – 10 years. So while we huddle in the trenches on the blurry front line of life – the most important thing is to race well.

Death Joke

“The boundaries which divide Life from Death are at best shadowy and vague. Who shall say where the one ends, and where the other begins?” Edgar Allan Poe –

By Dr. Adriaan van der Wart
Iridia Medical Physician, Mobile Medical Unit

Why Employ Paramedics at Remote Worksites?

Employing paramedics on remote worksites means more efficient medical attention and fewer lost-time incidents.

 

Occupational safety is of paramount importance in our offices, warehouses, camps and worksites; safe working conditions promote job satisfaction while keeping workers on the job.

The people commonly assigned to deliver care are occupational first-aid attendants Level III (OFAIII) who respond to medical emergencies on site. While having an OFAIII on site is the minimum standard, organizations serious about the safety of their workers can go above and beyond – as evidenced by the recent trend of placing experienced primary care paramedics (PCPs) and advanced care paramedics (ACPs) on site.

Current WorkSafeBC regulations require high-risk worksites more than 20 minutes away from a hospital to be supported by an OFAIII with access to a first-aid room and transport vehicle. An OFAIII will perform to his or her scope of practice, but often an ill or injured patient will be referred elsewhere because the OFAIII does not have the training or authority to treat the patient beyond a basic level. When there is a life-threatening emergency, this is clearly necessary. However, when the injury is minor but nevertheless untreatable by the OFAIII, a productivity issue arises for employers, as the worker may not be able to return to work promptly, resulting in a lost-workday incident.

Professionals providing medical care come with a variety of backgrounds and not all “medics” are created equal. The differences in the education and scope of an OFAIII, PCP and ACP are significant and clearly defined (see chart). Beyond the classroom, paramedics gain much of their experience working for an ambulance service and attending a wide spectrum of medical emergencies. These interactions provide them with practical experience to identify and treat cases they might find on the worksite.

Under the supervision of a physician medical director, PCPs and ACPs can perform to the full scope of their license. A PCP can administer medications to ease the symptoms of common illnesses like asthma and diabetes. These interventions could save a time-consuming and costly transport out of camp. Likewise, an ACP has an even greater scope of care that extends to the use of narcotics for pain management and the ability to provide cardiac monitoring and airway management in the event of a life- threatening emergency.

Remote WorksitesParamedics have the necessary skills to provide higher-level interventions before referring a patient to the hospital. In ongoing health and safety management, reducing lost-time injuries and major incidents is important to everyone.

An efficient way to incorporate paramedics into the care model of remote work sites is through a “hub and spoke” response system. The highest-trained responder (i.e., an ACP) is stationed at the main camp/medical clinic, and is supported by a combination of PCPs and OFAIIIs strategically placed throughout the worksite to provide the appropriate level of care. Patients are treated on site and turned over to the ACP as required. With such a system, the employer benefits from a high-value safety program while patients receive timely and appropriate care.

Employers looking to attract and retain top workers should consider expanding their health and safety program to include experienced ACPs and PCPs supported by a physician medical director. By raising the minimum standard of care, employers can take comfort in knowing their employees and contractors will receive the right care at the right time.

By Thomas Puddicombe

Director, Business Operations, Iridia Medical

 

Article originally published in the Summer 2014 issue of Mineral Exploration

An Advanced Care Paramedic at the Oil Patch

British Columbia Advanced Care Paramedic

I’ve worked for Iridia Medical for seven years, primarily travelling in and out of the Dilly Creek area for each rotation. In that time I’ve earned the title of “veteran,” giving me some advantages over the paramedics coming into these remote sites for the first time.

My years working in the north have taught me to pack as light as possible, the lighter the better with the airlines. You quickly learn what you can live without for 3 weeks and what absolute necessities are. Travel from the Okanagan where I live is always a new adventure. On those cloudless days I get a panoramic view of this province that only a few get to see on such a regular basis. En route I meet up with the other medics coming into the project at the various airports along the way. Arrival to camp is a two stage journey with air travel being the first and a 3+ hour drive to follow. During the drive, I am always watching for that close up view of the wildlife going about their business along the sides of the road. My favorite to date was seeing the cow moose with the triplets grazing alongside her – a rare sight at any time of the year.

Camp life is really quite nice. The camp staff know how difficult it is to be away from home working in these remote areas so many go the extra mile to have good food and a comfortable bed ready when you arrive. It’s always good to see those familiar faces when I arrive and get back into the groove of work life again. After touching base with the outgoing medic, the day ends with a quick meal and a well-deserved sleep.

The Advanced Care Paramedic (ACP) at the Dilly Creek is the central point of contact for our client’s safety department for all of their North East BC operations. Mornings start with that first coffee (got to lubricate and fuel those neurons!), compiling the previous day’s patient counts and mileage reports for submission. My day is usually filled with treating patients, gathering information about current and upcoming projects, ensuring the medic team has everything they need and working with operations to keep things running as smooth as possible. Some days are busier than others but all in all the time passes fairly quickly.

Advanced Care Paramedic at the Oil Patch

Being a clinic based service in a central location affords a few luxuries that many on the medic team don’t often receive. My clinic is modestly small but well equipped and comfortable. I have excellent internet and cell service along with satellite TV. Cushy by northern standards and I count myself fortunate.

The ACP at Dilly Creek has the freedom to move around the entire lease – their scope of coverage is not limited to one site. It is a nice break to get out of the office and visit the medic team, share a coffee and see how the various projects are getting along. Our client’s medical needs and responses are diverse so the team has to be adaptable to whatever is required. From simple cuts and bruises to critical evacuation by air I am proud to say our team has done it all up here and done it very well.

Home is 21 days away and there isn’t anyone one who doesn’t look forward to that last drive out. Our treat after a successful rotation is lunch and a cold beverage at the Boston Pizza in Fort Nelson. We chew over the events of the past 3 weeks, talk about our plans for the coming time off and get that relaxed feeling you experience knowing you are going home. 

Travis Cleave
Advanced Care Paramedic with Iridia

 

Life as a Remote Paramedic

remote paramedic

Mark Crighton: Life as a Remote Paramedic

I’m not going to lie to you, my career as a remote paramedic with Iridia started with the intention of making a “few quick bucks”. I was interested in going up north to work for a little while. I talked to a few guys around the BCAS station and they said Iridia was the company to work for… that was 3 years ago.

I discovered many things while working with Iridia and my career path completely changed. I learned about unbelievable teamwork, exceptional support, and being part of a team where my voice and opinions actually count. It was such a relief to finally be working in a positive environment, where like-minded individuals work towards common goals.

A great part of being a remote paramedic is the adventure. This career had enabled me to see and experience many things that I would never have discovered on my own – from urban adventures to remote wilderness and everything in between. Sometimes just getting to the job site is half the adventure. Making my way through many airports and passing through different towns and cities, all the way keeping an eye out for the closest Starbucks.

remote medical services

The isolation of remote site work is a completely new experience. It becomes a different kind of paramedicine out there in the wilderness. You have a lot more responsibility than you do on the streets – the hospital isn’t a mere ten minutes away. At one of the northern camps, we have added the Mobile Medical Unit (MMU) to the site which has been a very positive experience. Getting to work one on one with a physician has really allowed me to use some skills long forgotten.

I do a lot of prevention education with the crews on the sites, but compared to working on the street there’s more down time. I spend a lot of this time training for races in the camp gym, reading, studying. But it’s still very hard to be away from my family, friends, home, and the beach where I surf. The one thing I am truly blessed with is a very understanding and supportive wife and family, which makes the absence from home a lot more tolerable and coming home that much more special.

British Columbia wildlife

In my opinion one of the greatest bonuses about working in remote areas is the opportunity to see some amazing animals. I have seen animals that most people haven’t seen in zoos. Sightings  from wild buffalo and bears up close (see Iridia’s YouTube page for an amazing bear video ), moose, fox, and others – not to mention wolverines that are not afraid of people and seem to think a MTC is a great spot to hide under regardless of whether or not you need to go get dinner!

There are so many amazing things related to the work, all you need is a little sense of adventure! Working with the team at Iridia has been such a positive experience for me, and I look forward to growing with the team well into the future.

Thanks for taking the time to read my blog post!

Mark Crighton
Remote Paramedic with Iridia

 

 

Looking Back on our First Year as Iridia Medical

Brand Launch

This month marks a very special anniversary in our company’s history – being one year since we re-branded from Global Medical Services to Iridia Medical. 

Many of you lived some of that journey with us as we shared with you the triumphs and challenges associated with changing to a new brand identity and bringing that identity to life through new marketing materials, a new website and Social Media presence, new building signage, documents, email addresses, and so on.  The sheer amount of work involved in the re-brand was staggering and could not have been achieved without the collective efforts of the Iridia team and others with whom we engaged throughout the journey. 

So what has our first year as Iridia Medical involved?

We kicked off our year under our new brand with the deployment of our Mobile Medical Unit into a remote oil and gas camp in Northeastern BC.  This has been one of our most innovative projects to date and is an industry first in British Columbia. It allows ill and injured workers in these remote camps to receive, in many cases, definitive medical care which enables them to stay in camp and avoid the hazards of transport to another medical facility; particularly at certain times of the year when extreme weather conditions can make emergency evacuation close to impossible.

We also saw Iridia named as a key partner in two public access to defibrillation (PAD) programs – the BC Heart and Stroke PAD Program and the National AED Program Federal Initiative. The BC initiative will see 450 AEDs and associated training delivered to communities throughout BC.  The national program will see a targeted 3,000 AEDs distributed to recreational facilities, mostly arenas, across the country.  The initiative will also see 30,000 people trained in the use of AEDs.  Iridia is a key distributor for each of these programs and we are proud to be involved with these life-saving initiatives.

In recognition of the growth we have achieved in the past few years, Iridia was again named one of Business in Vancouver’s top 100 fastest growing companies for the third year running.  We were also proud to have been included in PROFIT Magazine’s list of Canada’s Top 500 Growing Companies for 2013. 

Finally, our commitment to health and wellness continued throughout the year with, most notably, our participation in the Global Corporate Challenge (GCC).  This program is designed to “get the world moving” and that is, in fact, what occurred with 37,432 teams (that’s 262,000 people!) from around the world participating in the 2013 GCC program.  21 of Iridia’s staff participated and some incredible accomplishments were achieved during the 4 months of the program.

Our First Year

The above highlights are just a select few of the key accomplishments we’ve achieved during our first year as Iridia Medical which has certainly been an exciting and action-packed one!  Looking forward, we are energized by the goals we have set for ourselves including expanding our remote medical services program both within and beyond BC, and building on our education and AED programs.  Stay tuned for more!

 

 

Driving Innovation With Our Mobile Medical Unit

In early 2013, Iridia accomplished one of its most innovative projects to date – the design, building and deployment of a mobile medical unit (MMU) in a remote oil and gas camp in Northeastern BC. 

The MMU is an industry first in British Columbia and was born out of the need for enhanced on-site medical treatment options for remote oil and gas camps.  During certain times of the year, evacuation of emergency or non-emergent patients can be impossible due to the weather conditions which then require the patient to remain in camp for extended periods of time.  With the deployment of the MMU, ill and injured workers can, in many cases, receive definitive care which enables them to stay in camp and avoid the hazards of transport to another medical facility.  

What exactly is the Mobile Medical Unit?

We like to describe the MMU as an RV on steroids!

It is a 53-foot trailer that expands to become a 1000 square foot workspace. It is fully equipped with equipment that would be found in a small hospital including a mini-lab, pharmacy, x-ray machine, and some of the latest diagnostic equipment, as well as with simple over-the-counter medications, antibiotics and narcotics for pain management. It is designed to house multiple patients for an extended period of time and is staffed 24/7 by an emergency trained physician. 

MMU Mobile Medical Unit MMU Mobile Medical Unit

By providing this facility in a remote camp, not only will it provide enhanced care for our patients, but it will also serve as an opportunity to study how this care model can impact the health and wellness of a camp population.

The Iridia MMU is one of only two mobile hospitals in British Columbia, with the other having been funded by the BC Government to support the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics.  It is one of our greatest accomplishments as a company and speaks to our values of innovation, teamwork and quality. 

 

Heart Month 2014, Help Spread the Word

Heart Month 2014It is a little known fact that heart disease and stroke take one life every 7 minutes and, astonishingly, 90 percent of Canadians have at least one risk factor.

With obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes on the rise, it is expected that the incidence of heart disease and stroke will swell in upcoming generations. Lifestyle changes have led to sedentary work environments, poor diets, high sodium intake and increased stress which all contribute to heart disease. We are facing what the Heart and Stroke Foundation calls the “perfect storm.”

Heart Disease Facts

  • Everyday, heart disease and stroke lead to nearly 1,000 hospital visits.
  • Heart disease and stroke rob Canadians of nearly 250,000 potential years of life
  • Heart disease and stroke kills more women than men, a fact that many women may not realize.
  • Today, less than 10% of children meet recommended physical activity guidelines and less than half eat the recommended fruit and vegetables for optimum health.

Heart Month 2014

Today, you can make a difference by celebrating Heart Month 2014 and eliminate preventable heart disease. For over 60 years, the Heart and Stroke Foundation has organized Heart Month, one of the largest fundraising campaigns in Canada in the battle against these two killers.

Heart Month brings together tens of thousands of Canadians who volunteer and donate to raise funds for this worthy cause – funds which will help support life-saving research and the raising of awareness of heart disease and stroke within the community. Learn how you can participate and join the Heart Month Community.

As heart disease is an issue that is very personal to us, Iridia will donate a portion of the proceeds from your purchase of AED’s, AED accessories or workshops to the Heart and Stroke Foundation. We value and appreciate the hard work the Heart and Stroke Foundation is doing and we are thankful to have them as a partner against heart disease.

In recognition of Heart Month, Iridia is offering 10% off all AEDs purchased in the month of February and 1 year of free medical direction for first time purchasers. For more information, please contact AED Sales at 1-888-404-6444.

Heart Month 2014 Banner

It is an uphill battle against heart disease and stroke, but it’s a battle we can win – help us and spread the word!

 

The Chilling Effects of Frostbite

Frostbite

At Iridia, many of our paramedics work in remote oil and gas camps in northern British Columbia. We encourage them to be prepared for whatever they may come across in these regions. Lately, frostbite has been a key concern.

In recent days much of Canada has been dowsed in northern-like temperatures. With temperatures reaching -30°C in some areas, it’s important for everyone to understand symptoms and causes of frostbite.

Frostbite occurs when the skin and body tissue just underneath it freezes. Your skin becomes very cold, then numb, hard and pale. Frostbite typically affects smaller, more exposed areas of your body, such as your fingers and ears.

What are the stages of frostbite?

The first stage of frostbite is frostnip — a mild form of frostbite in which your skin turns red and feels very cold. Frostnip doesn’t do permanent damage.

The second stage of frostbite appears as reddened skin that turns white or very pale. The skin may remain soft, but some ice crystals may form in the tissue. Skin may begin to feel deceptively warm — a sign of serious skin involvement.

As frostbite progresses, it affects all layers of the skin, including the tissues that lie below. Deceptive numbness may occur in which all sensation of cold, pain or discomfort is lost. Joints or muscles may no longer work. Afterward, the area turns black and hard as the tissue dies.

What are the symptoms of frostbite?

  • A slightly painful, prickly or itching sensation
  • White or grayish-yellow skin
  • Hard or waxy-looking skin
  • A cold or burning feeling
  • Numbness
  • Clumsiness due to joint stiffness
  • Blistering, in severe cases

frostbite treatment

What are the causes of frostbite?

Frostbite occurs in two ways:

Frostbite can occur in conjunction with hypothermia — a condition in which your body loses heat faster than it produces heat, causing dangerously low body temperature. When core body temperature lowers, it decreases circulation and threatens vital organs. This triggers a “life over limb” response, meaning your body protects vital organs, sometimes at the expense of extremities. With decreased circulation, your body temperature lowers and the tissue freezes at -2C.

Frostbite can also occur with direct contact. If you’re in direct contact with something very cold, such as ice or metal, heat is conducted away from your body. Such exposure lowers the temperature of the skin and freezes the tissue.

As always, stay safe. If you experience any of the symptoms above, seek medical attention. For more information, head over to CBC to learn more about frostbite and how it affects you at different wind-chill levels.